I was reminded of the strip today, when I read this piece about how
AT&T Inc. and BellSouth Corp. are lobbying Capitol Hill for the right to create a two-tiered Internet, where the telecom carriers' own Internet services would be transmitted faster and more efficiently than those of their competitors. The proposal is certain to provoke a major fight with Google Inc., Yahoo Inc., Time Warner Inc., and Microsoft Corp., the powerful owners of popular Internet sites. The companies fear such a move would give telecommunications companies too much control over a fast-growing part of the Internet.While I don't blame these latter-day carpetbaggers for wanting to milk as much money from the Internet as possible - after all, once a monopolist always a monopolist. I do marvel, however, at the shortsightedness of greedy industry executives, be they from the telcos, the recording industry, software industry... you name it!
The traditional view is that a successful industry is built on the basis of investment, risk-taking, expertise and hard work. What has not been acknowledged until recently - and only in the context of FLOSS - is that successful industries are also a result of market participation among consumer-producers (by which I mean consumers who also produce the market itself; ideas, suggestions and techniques that are incorporated into offerings; actual content that enables the offering; social dynamics that create a desire/need and hence fuel the market's growth; among many other aspects). In fact, under UCaPP* conditions, traditional consumers reverse to producers, without whom there would have been no Google, no Yahoo, no browsers, no streaming video, no nothing that would have generated the type of demand that allows these telcos to make the types of profitable investments upon which they are now capitalizing. For them to turn around and effectively say, "let's eliminate the conditions that made us successful so that no one else can be" is the type of hypocrisy that makes me say...
They'll do it every time! (But only if we allow them to.)
*UCaPP = ubiquitously connected and pervasively proximate
Update: BusinessWeek reports on this issue, and identify what's At Stake: The Net as We Know It:
But express lanes for certain bits could give network providers a chance to shunt other services into the slow lane, unless they pay up. A phone company could tell Google or another independent Web service that it must pay extra to ensure speedy, reliable service.
That could result in an Internet of haves, who can afford to pay the network operators more to ensure smooth service, and have-nots. Trouble is, those have-nots may include the Next Big Thing -- whether it be mom-and-pop podcasting or video blogging. The fewer innovative services on the Net, the less reason Web users have to want broadband. Both the network operators and the Internet could lose out in the end.
[Technorati tags: telco | at&t | bellsouth | they'll do it every time | monopolist | two-tiered internet]